Charles Tillerman

The October Chosen Writer is Charles Tillerman

Feel free to email Charles at: Tillerman78@mail.com


by Charles Tillerman

The clock read three in the afternoon, and one day that would mean terrible things, but today it meant the workday was over. 

Both Crystal and Jack Garner would be finished with work, but the difference was that Crystal didn’t have to punch out on a time clock. Instead of working in a steel mill like her husband, Crystal used her bachelor’s degree to write online articles for webpages. The Garners were a month moved removed from their one-year wedding anniversary and this system had worked their entire marriage.

In twenty minutes, Crystal Garner’s husband would come home. She sat on the couch watching the TV commercials with her hair pulled back, flipping the channel once the ads finished playing. She had on her work uniform: a t-shirt and shorts. It was very different from the blue collar and jeans her husband had to wear.

She felt impatient. Today was either the day Jack got the bid or he didn’t. He had been at the steel mill for two years now working in shipping, and he was trying to get a higher paid position in processing. The only problem was Sean Anthony. Both Jack and Sean Anthony had applied for the same position in the plant, and neither wanted to be rejected.

Suddenly Jack came in the front door with a huge smile. “I got it!”

“That’s amazing!” Crystal said. She jumped up and gave him a kiss on the lips.

Jack carried her to the dinner table and set her down at the head. He went into the kitchen and brought out a bottle of champagne as well as two glasses. “I was hiding this in hopes that we could use it to celebrate,” Jack said. He then cut the bottle open.  “And we can!”

Jack filled her glass first and then his own. Crystal took a sip. “I bet Sean was fuming at his loss,” she said.

“Oh yeah, he took one look at the memo on the cork board and then stormed out of the break room. Some of the guys said that he was mumbling stuff, but they didn’t care what he was saying. And of course, I only care that he didn’t get the job,” Jack chuckled. 

They giggled and celebrated all afternoon and into the evening. When the sunset turned the sky a dark orange color, Jack Garner made love to his wife while across town, in a little one-bedroom apartment, a book of dark secrets was being opened.


Crystal had a small tray of lasagna in the oven when Jack came home on Friday. Jack came into the kitchen and gave her a kiss on the neck. “One week down. One more to go,” he said.

“And then the training is over,” Crystal finished.

Jack sat down at the table. He placed his folded his hands on the tabletop. “Sean approached me today during lunch…” he started, but stopped and let his thoughts trickle away like a bubbling stream in the dry season. 

“What’s the matter, Honey?” Crystal said over her shoulder as she took the dinner out of the oven.

“Sean said that I was being gluttonous for taking the job. Yeah, that’s the word he used, gluttonous, if you can believe it. He said I was fattening myself up with extra money, but that wasn’t the worst part,” Jack told her. He hesitated before he finished, “Sean said he’d get me.”

Crystal sat down at the table, silent.

“Sean said he’d get me and that he had a plan,” he continued. “He said to enjoy the weekend because my greedy ass would never have another one. Sean is threatening me and I think he’s crazy enough to actually follow through with it.”

Crystal laughed. “That’s all talk, Honey. What’s he going to do, murder you?”

“If there was one guy in the plant that could, it would be him, and with this as a motive I think it’s a real possibility.” Jack said.  He never looked away from his wife as he said this.

Crystal felt the happiness seeping out of her heart. Jack was sponging it out with his dark thoughts. She decided to disguise her worry. “Well, let’s enjoy the weekend then! If it’s going to be your last one, you might as well have a little fun.”

She stood up and began to cut the lasagna. “For now, let’s have something to eat.”


The weekend came and went, and the Garners enjoyed it. When Monday morning came and Jack left for the steel mill, Crystal felt uneasy.

She would never admit it, but she was waiting for a phone call. She was waiting for the plant manager calling to say that Jack was dead. Or maybe a police officer. She dreaded a call saying he’d had an accident on the way to work and never made it. These thoughts clouded her mind like a group of crows in the sky.

She kept her cell phone at her desk, right in front of her, but the phone never rang. When three o’clock rolled around, she waited in the living room for Jack to come home. She watched with relief as he pulled up the driveway and got out of the car about a half hour later. 

Then she felt her heart beat too fast when she saw that Jack looked down the road and then ran from the driveway to the house. He was out of breath when he made it through the door and his face was red.

“What happened?” Crystal asked in fright.

“Help me move the couch in front of the door!” Jack gragged the arm of the couch and was dragging it across the floor.

“What?” Crystal could hear the hysterics in her own voice. “Tell me!”

“Just do what I say!”

With her help, they moved the couch in front of the door. Jack knocked the bookcase over in the living room and threw it on the couch. Books and papers flew about the room as he worked.

Crystal grabbed Jack’s shoulder. “You have to tell me what’s going on!”

He stopped all motion and said, “Look out the window.”

Feeling an overwhelming sense of dread, she looked out the window. Outside was their front lawn and Jack’s car. Nothing was out of place or strange in the least bit.

“Jack, there’s nothing out there.”

And then she saw it. Across the street, there was some sort of monster with a pink, fleshy body and a grimace filled with crocodile teeth. The eyes in the wrinkled, contorted face almost glowed with dark menace. Whatever the creature was, it was about to cross the street and was headed for their house.

“What the hell is that?” Crystal shouted.

Her husband stood frozen in the living room. The couch and bookcase piled against the door, but pitted against the girth of the creature, she sensed that they would be no match. Jack stood frozen while the monster walked onto their front lawn, its short arms outstretched.

“Jack! What is it?”

“I don’t know! It followed me home.”

“You led it here? You led this thing right to our house?”

It made it. It was here. They could hear the creature against the front door, a few bumps at first and then louder bangs. 

“We have to do something!” Crystal shouted above the pounding of her heart.

“I think it’s after me, not you. I think that somehow, Sean did this.”

“That’s crazy!” she cried. “I’m calling 911.”

Before she could move, the front door crashed into splinters. A flash of fat, ugly pink flesh was standing where the front door used to be.

Her fright spurred her into action. She grabbed her husband and ran into their bedroom, pulling him after her. Slamming the door, she could hear heavy footsteps in the living room and knew the monster was still coming. She could hear its stomach sloshing as it waddled through the room. 

Jack turned to her and desperately asked, “Where’s your phone? You said you were going to call 911.”

She felt warm salt-tears blurring her vision. “I left it on my desk, in the kitchen.”

They both looked to the bedroom window, and knew the truth about it: Jack had nailed the windows shut against burglars. How foolish it seemed now; no emergency exit. What if there was a fire…or a monster?

“I’m going back to distract it. You go out  the front door,  run to the car and go to your mother’s house,” Jack said. He put the keys to the car in her hand. “When I chase it out, I’ll use your cell phone and call your mom. Then I’ll call 911.”

From watery eyes, Crystal tried to protest. “You can’t fight that thing!”

“Yes I can. We’re not going down without a fight!” Jack thrust her behind him before pushing the bedroom door open. 

The creature turned around. As it did, its flesh jiggled and shook. Crystal could see the bulging stomach the creature carried and the rolls of fat all over its body. Its mouth opened wide, revealing the jagged teeth, and she knew it was a mouth for eating.

Jack taunted the creature before running to the kitchen and then out the back door.  Crystal could see that he grabbed her cell phone as he ran.

She also ran, and went out the gaping hole in the front of the house and to the car parked in the drive. She slid into the driver’s seat and pulled out of the driveway. She tried to look over her shoulder to see Jack, but he was nowhere to be seen, nor was the monster.

Did Jack make it? Was he safe? He said he would call her.

She drove down the road as her house got smaller and smaller in the rearview until it finally vanished on the horizon.


Crystal’s mother lived on the other side of town, and it was only a ten-minute drive, but her adrenaline made it feel like ten seconds. 

When she got there, her mother’s car was not in the driveway. She threw her car in park and ran to the house without even closing the car door. Under the mat was the spare key. She let herself into her mother’s house.

Her mind raced. Why didn’t she go around and pick Jack up in the car?  It had all happened so fast. Cruel hindsight sickened her.

She knew her mother had a land-line, and she went to the kitchen where it rested on the wall. She dialed 911.

“State your emergency.”

“A monster…”

“Ma’am? What did you say?”

“I need to you do a welfare check.” She gave her home address to the dispatcher.

After she hung up, Crystal looked at the clock. The minute-hand moved forward as did the hour hand, and her mother’s phone remained stubbornly silent. Perhaps her husband had ran down the street and got the attention of neighbors. He could have got someone’s gun and shot the monster in its fat gut. 

Or he could run. Run down the street and around the corner, but Jack was never one to be in shape. He would trip and fall or manage to get hit by a car.  The thought of the creature’s swinging stomach hovering over his body clogged Crystal’s mind.

Now she silently agreed with her husband. Sean had said he’d get him. He told Jack face-to-face in the break room last week. He said to enjoy the weekend because Jack’s greedy ass would never have another one

Crystal stared at the phone on the wall and waited for it to ring. She needed to know he was okay. She needed to know that the monster didn’t get him, but the phone was silent.

She waited.

And waited…

Charles Tillerman lives with his wife Ashley in Delaware where he works full time as a librarian. He’s a graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in English, and he is a big Washington sports fan. The Capitals and Nationals are his teams.